Science of Agriculture

Science Agriculture Header for Webpage

Approximately 500,000 kids participate in Ag and Natural Resource Awareness activities each year through Texas 4-H. With this in mind, this site has been developed to assist county Extension agents and volunteers in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of their programs. We will continue to update these pages as we receive information that will enhance these programs.

Planning A Science of Agriculture Event

In order for a youth Science of Agriculture event to be successful, early planning is essential. In addition, it takes numerous individuals to set the program in motion. How many? Well, that depends on the size of your target audience. Obviously, the more youth you have involved, the more volunteers, adult leaders, and youth presenters should be involved. After all, there is research that suggests that more one-on-one contact between speakers and listeners there is, the greater the impact will be for both.

Overview of the Activity

In general, youth educational activities that pertain to agriculture must be fast paced, active, and hands-on. These children have been in a classroom for the entire school year and are ready to learn and be entertained on the art and science of agriculture. The idea is for the youth to leave with an appreciation and enthusiasm on agriculture and the environment. The ultimate goal is to stimulate their interest in what they have been a part of and to hopefully take these principles home and share with their family.

Science of Agriculture Event To Do List

Planning an activity of this magnitude takes months of preparation time. Working with the school districts must begin well in advance of the program date. It is best to meet with the schools before they begin the fall semester. Teachers usually report at the first of August. You should try and meet with the teachers and administrators during this time period. This is the time to discuss the plans for your event. If there is going to be curriculum available, you should have it there for them to look over. Items that should be discussed with the schools include:

  • Overall goal of the program
  • Available curriculum
  • Date of the event
  • Program agenda
  • Transportation (bus scheduling)
  • Meal plan for participants
  • Evaluation Techniques
  • Participation forms school must have on file (medical, code of conduct, parental agreement)

At the same time, the coordinator must be preparing the presentations. The earlier you can secure the topics, the more likely you will be able to get the modules and presentation skits that are available across the state. Click on the following sections for options and ideas when planning your Science of Agriculture Event: Teaching Modules, Science of Agriculture Resource Materials, Lesson Plans, and Evaluation. Here are some things to remember about presentations:

  • Make it age group appropriate.
  • Try to use agriculture and environmental commodities that are noted in your area.
  • Try to use local speakers (these could include 4-H youth)
  • The presentations need to be interactive, fun, and educational.
  • If you are going to work with commodity groups, get on the calendar early.
  • Contact commodity groups for goodie bag items that the participants can take home.
  • Search out local support like the Chamber of Commerce / Texas Farm Bureau / community leaders to help identify individuals who would like to volunteer.

These programs take lots of volunteers. These volunteers are the link to your program’s success. Keep these points in mind about volunteers.

  • Recruit volunteers early.
  • Let volunteers sell the program.
  • Train them to market the program with the news media and at other community activities.
  • If they are going to present at the Science of Agriculture event, you may provide them with a checklist of items to cover on specific commodities.
  • It may be a good idea to have a one-day training for all volunteers to make assignments and discuss the program.

Volunteers can be used in many ways. Here are a few to think about:

  • Present a part of the program
  • Lead classes through the activity
  • Help prepare lunches
  • Work with local media
  • Help distribute evaluations
  • Stuff goody bags
  • Park buses
  • Help with first aid emergency items

90 Days Before the Event

About three months before the event should mark the time to double check all the speakers, modules, and program areas you have previously reserved. Verbal commitments are non-binding! It is imperative to have a signed contract of some kind that verifies your speakers, modules, curriculum, and supplemental material. Also, a second meeting with the schools should be performed. This is the chance for you to get your final attendance figures and to finalize the agenda schedule for each of the schools participating. Finally, curriculum should be sent to teachers that requested it with specific instructions to carry out the plans.

One Month Before the Event

This is the time to meet with the local media to announce the event. This is a high profile activity that the general public will be genuinely interested in learning about it. This is also the time to meet with the presenters to rehearse the skit or presentation. If high school aged youth are involved, they need to be taught the appropriate subject matter from adults and allowed to practice their skit multiple times to ensure their grasp of the material. Finally, you will need to send the pretest to the teachers for them to implement in their classrooms prior to the teaching of any Science of Agriculture lessons. It is important that the students receive the pre-test so that you can assess what they learn after the completion of the classroom lessons and Science of Agriculture event when administering the post-test.

Day of the Event

This is the day to shine!! If your volunteers are trained well, then this is the easy day. Four major objectives to carry through the day include:

  • Take lots of photographs and video the event.
  • Hold a press conference for the media.
  • Distribute post tests to teachers and teachers packets.
  • Make sure participants are learning in an entertaining environment.

Follow-up

You are not done yet! Once the event is over, gather all the evaluations and analyze your results. Remember to send lots of appreciation letters and even have a celebration luncheon for everyone involved. Begin work for next year. Finally, provide Laura Huebinger with a narrative summary to aggregate into state-wide data.


Individual Presentation Sessions

These presentations must be educational and entertaining. On average, a Science of Agriculture event will consist of eight to twelve individual sessions that are approximately 15 to 20 minutes in length. These sessions should represent varying aspects of agriculture. Some commodities that are typically taught at Science of Agriculture events include:

  • Cotton
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Beef
  • Cattle
  • Dairy (milk)
  • Swine
  • Sheep & Wool Products
  • Goats
  • Horse
  • Horticulture
  • Gardening
  • Fish Products
  • Wildlife
  • Nutrition
  • Food Safety
  • Marine Biology
  • Texas Geography
  • Plant Chemical
  • Safety
  • Entomology
  • Soil Erosion
  • Timber for Farm
  • Careers in Agriculture
  • Forestry
  • Water

Refer to the following sections for options and ideas when planning your Science of Agriculture Event: Teaching Modules, Science of Agriculture Resource Materials, Lesson Plans, and Evaluation. Because of the short time period to discuss these commodities, an outline should be prepared to assist the presenter to make sure they reach all their objectives in the 15 minute time frame.

Opening (First minute)

During this initial time period the presenter should handle two major objectives:

  1. Identify the lesson:
    What is the title?
    What is the subject area?
  2. Objectives of the lesson
    What will the students learn during the session?

Body of Program (Next 12 minutes)

This is where the interaction should take place. THINK BIG PICTURE! What are the key points we want our youth to know about this specific commodity or topic? We want them to know that we get beef from beef cattle…not gummy bears and marshmallows! We want them to know that we get milk from a dairy cow and that the cow doesn’t produce chocolate and strawberry milk…it is added later. We want them to know that the outside of a portion of a grain of wheat is called a hull and that it is good to eat whole grains to stay healthy. Don’t forget to use examples that the students can relate to!

  1. Introduction
    This is the portion of the presentation where the presenter must grab the audience with astonishing facts or excitement that relates to the presentation. It needs to link the subject matter to the participants, so that they can relate. This needs to be brief (two minutes).
  2. Presentation
    This is the meat and potatoes of the program. The presenter uses this time to teach the lesson. Remember, this lesson should not be a lecture for students to sit and listen. It needs to be experiential, hands-on, with two way communication between the presenter and the participants. The participants need to be involved and help teach or be energized to take an active role in the session. This section needs to be 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Application
    After the presentation, the presenter needs to tie the presentation curriculum to everyday use. In other words, the participants need to understand that the subject presented affects their everyday life. (Two minute time frame)
  4. Summary
    A summary could be just a question and answer section that also entails passing out of supplemental material that the participants can take home to their parents or share with their friends (closing minute).

Teaching Module

There are several different modules that are available through Extension for use at Science of Agriculture events. More information on these modules can be found in the Educational Resource Catalog.

MODULE NAME SUBJECT
Processing the Fabric of Our Lives
Texas Uncovered
Somethings Fishy
Wildlife Success Stories
Whitetail Deer
Biscuit Bingo
Rainfall Simulator
Mobile Dairy Classroom
Mini Cotton Gins
Ecology
Water Quality and Conservation
Wildlife
Farming and Risk Management
Rainfall & Water Conservation
Dairy Industry

Science of Agriculture Resource Materials

There are countless contacts and websites for a variety of agriculture topics. Below are a few resources to help you get started. If you find something that’s useful and you would like to share, please send an email with the link to Laura Huebinger.

Lesson Plans

A team of County Extension Agents and Specialists came together to write some lesson plans that can be used when teaching about agriculture in the classroom. Here are a few lessons plans. More to come! If you have a great lesson plan that you would like to share, please send the information to Laura Huebinger.

  • Animals: Dairy-licious! – PDF
  • Animals: Grazing Goats – PDF
  • Animals: The Anatomy of a Cow – PDF
  • Natural Fiber-Mohair: Mohair: More Than Hair – PDF
  • Natural Fiber-Wool: Woolly Woolly – PDF
  • Nutrition: What is MyPyramid? – PDF
  • Nutrition: Feast on Fruits & Vegetables – PDF
  • Nutrition: Go Lean with Protein – PDF
  • Nutrition: Grow Your Energy with Grains – PDF
  • Nutrition: Keep Your Body Moving with Dairy – PDF
  • Nutrition: Play it Safe with Food Safety – PDF
  • Water: Building an Edible Aquifer – PDF
  • Water: Indoor Water Conservation – PDF
  • Water: Outdoor Water Conservation – PDF
  • Water: Rainfall Simulator – PDF
  • Water: The Water Obstacle Course – PDF

Evaluation

It is important for you to evaluate, report, and interpret significant results to teachers, administrators, program speakers, sponsors, and other key stakeholders after students participate in your Science of Agriculture event. A standard evaluation has been developed for use with these events.  It is extremely important that you use this specific evaluation so that data can be aggregated on a state-wide basis to show the huge impact that we have across the state.  This evaluation should be used for both Outcome and Output plans.

You should send a pre-test to the school prior to teaching any curriculum.  Then for the post-test, you can send the tests to the schools to be completed later or even have the students complete their post-tests prior to leaving the Science of Agriculture event.

There are actually three different versions of the evaluation, but the front is the same on all of them.  The first nine questions are the same and the next nine questions can be selected from a drop-down menu.  This allows the data from all of these questions to be aggregated.  The back of the evaluation (should you chose to use it) allows you to add your own questions in one of three formats:  Multiple Choice, True/False, or Yes/No/I Don’t Know.  For a further explanation on how to use this evaluation, you can view this PowerPoint Presentation (PDF).

A few awesome features:

  • It’s already written so you don’t have to re-create a new evaluation!
  • The drop-down menu lets you select the questions that relate to you.
  • You can “turn off” questions by clicking the box to the right of the box.
  • You can bubble-in the “Pre-Test” or “Post-Test” bubble at the bottom before copying. 
  • You can add additional questions if you want to!
  • And just send them in for scanning…they’ll send you back the data!  (Click here to find out how.)

The new standard evaluation can be found on the Organizational Development website on the 4-H Outcome Programs Evaluation page. Scroll down the “Science of Agriculture” section, or here’s the direct link to each evaluation:

If you have any questions about this evaluation, feel free to call or email Laura Huebinger

Scanning the results and calculating significant changes

Once you receive your completed evaluations back from the students, Organizational Development can scan the evaluations and help run the data. They will send you a report back with the data results. Be sure to make a copy of your originals to in case they originals are misplaced before you receive your results back.

Writing the Outcome Summary

Organizational Development has some helpful tips when writing outcome summaries.

Sharing Your Results

It is imperative that you send your outcome summary results to the school administrators, teachers, program speakers, sponsors, and other key stakeholders in your community, as well as your District Extension Administrator, Regional Program Director, and 4-H Specialist. Please also send your outcome summary results to Laura Huebinger so that state-wide data may be compiled.


Contact Information

Mrs. Laura Real Huebinger
Extension Program Specialist – 4-H
District 8
1229 North US Hwy 281
Stephenville, TX 76401
Phone: 254-968-4144
Fax: 254-965-3759
E-mail: lhuebinger@ag.tamu.edu

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